The annual Schools Go Racing Day took place at Leopardstown yesterday with 275 children from local schools getting an insight into the sport in all its forms.
The aim of the day has always been to encourage an affinity with racing by educating children about the opportunities that are available working within the horse racing business, and what the industry offers.
There were a series of stations, featuring a range of different professionals from within the industry such as racehorse Trainer Denis Hogan and National Hunt Jockey Denis O’Regan. After teaching the school children about the horse racing industry in the morning, both Hogan and O’Regan went on to ride winners at the final national hunt meeting of the season at Leopardstown later in the day.
The event also featured Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jennifer Pugh, The Irish National Stud, Jockey’s Valet Liam Cleary, Leopardstown Racecourse Operations Manager David Attwood (pictured above), Sponsorship & Marketing Manager Joe Hennessy, a horse racing simulator from the Racing Academy and Centre of Education and the Front Runner Kids Racing Club (with racing games, puzzles and quizzes).
“It’s been an incredibly successful National Hunt season here at Leopardstown with the annual Leopardstown Christmas Festival continuing to be a firm favourite and only in its second year, Dublin Racing Festival has firmly established itself on the National Hunt calendar,” said Leopardstown CEO Pat Keogh.
“A day like today is a great opportunity to showcase the industry to the next generation and it was great to have so many children from our local schools in attendance. Who knows, the next Davy Russell, Rachael Blackmore, Gordon Elliott or Michael O’Leary might be amongst the school children here today”
“The boys, the teachers and the parent volunteers arrived back full of praise for the event,” said Fiona Griffin, Principal of St Brigid’s National School.
“They were extremely impressed with how well run it was, how good the team were at engaging with the children, the area and the proximity to the races. We had a wonderful day, we would love to return again next year.”
Getting children involved in and excited about a sport before the age of ten is a critical factor in forging a lifelong relationship with it.